Albemarle Homeowners in Trouble After Builder Abruptly Closes
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Homeowners and subcontractors across central Virginia are finding themselves out thousands of dollars and in legal trouble after a home builder closed without warning, leaving houses incomplete and work unpaid.
Four families in Albemarle County have found themselves without the homes they were promised. They contracted David James Homes to build them, only to find themselves out of luck when the company abruptly closed its doors this summer.
Faith Pugh signed a contract in July 2018 with a promise to move in to her new home in Scottsville by December. When December came, crews had just begun work on the house.
"The shell of the house was done...they needed to backfill but there was no dirt," Pugh said. "I don't know where it went, but they wanted thousands of dollars to fix it."
Pugh eventually fired David James in May. She was left with the shell of a home, but was also left with another problem; David James filed to pay the subcontractors they hired to work on Pugh's home. Now, they've filed mechanics liens against her.
"I paid David James to pay the subcontractors, but they didn't pay the subcontractors and now they've put a lien against my property where I need to pay them and so now it's like I'm paying for it twice," Pugh said.
Those subcontractors that were supposed to be paid by David James Homes say filing mechanics liens against the affected homeowners, including the Pughs, is the only way they might get some of their money back.
"The ones that aren't finished can't title or close their house until those are paid," said Jeff Richardson, owner of Wolftown Electric. "I don't plan to get it, but it would be nice to get some of it back. If not, you got to write it off and keep on going."
Richardson says he worked on dozens of homes for David James Homes and its owner, Merle Heckman. He says payments stopped earlier this year.
"From January, they were all due. We finished them up by the end of January, within a couple of months of each other," Richardson said.
Now, Pugh and her ex-husband Jason are left finishing the house by building it while working full-time.
"I have two children...and I'm constantly having to send them to a grandparent because I'm here working until late hours and they have schoolwork that needs to be done, they have dinners that need to be cooked, they need to sleep and I'm here," Pugh said.
David James filed for bankruptcy in late August. Three other families in Albemarle County shared similar stores of long-delayed build times, unpaid subcontractors, and unfinished homes.
"I'd like to know where my money went...where everyone's money went," Pugh said.
NBC29 reached out to a company owned by one of the David James higher-ups, but have not heard back.